Our two honorable mention finalists were from Milton M. Somers Middle School and Piccowaxen Middle School.
The Effects of Microgravity on the Cell Regenerative Properties of the Planarian Worm
Grades 6-8, Milton M. Somers Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Lauren Clements, T.C. Martin, and Caitie O’Donnell
Co-Investigators: Hannah Clark, Amaris Pitts, and Bethany Riege
Collaborators: Klahr Clark, Derek Noel, Simone Pitts, Haley Stewart, Marcus Stine, and Jesse Zeitler
Teacher Facilitator: Erin Beauvais, Science Teacher
To jump-start experimental studies on cell regeneration we will test the ability of the planarian worm to regenerate cells within micro-gravity conditions. We will send the worms on the shuttle in order to test the gene a planarian worm has, which is “Smed-Prop”. “Smed-Prop” is the gene that allows the worm to regenerate body parts when cut off. For example, if you were to cut the worm in half, the head would re-grow a bottom and the bottom would re-grow a head in about twenty days. Not only does “Smed-Prop” allow the planarian worm to regenerate itself, but also allows the part to re-grow that part in the exact size and position of its previous state. Micro-gravity might have an effect on the Planarian Worm and how it regenerates itself. It possibly could have an effect on the speed of the regeneration or cause disfigurement to the Planarian Worm. The reason of interest is that in today’s society, cell regeneration is an up and coming innovation in the medical field. If we are able to prove that micro-gravity has an effect on the planarian worm specimen, we can use it in the future for human cell regeneration.
The Effect of Green Algae (Coleochaete) on Dissolved Oxygen Levels in Microgravity Conditions
Grade 8, Piccowaxen Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Zachary Sinclair and John Snee
Co-Investigators: Blaine Hoffman, Jake DeLozier, Ciara Albrittain, Nicole Lusk, Liam Vienneau, Austin Orth
Teacher Facilitator: Ian Buter, Science Teacher
With future space colonization in mind, we would like to test plant life in microgravity conditions. The mixture of algae and saltwater provides for an oxygen rich environment. We would like to test a mixture of algae and saltwater on Earth while testing an identical mixture in microgravity conditions. This would provide the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with valuable insight into future plant life in space. Health of the plant is crucial to the amount of dissolved oxygen released from the algae. If the experiment proves that algae releases more dissolved oxygen in space, a conclusion can be made that plant life is possible in space. Space colonization technology could possibly be improved if the future spacecraft transporting people would be able to produce its own oxygen using plant life. This future technology could be developed through the study of plant life in microgravity conditions. Plant life in microgravity would also reduce the amount of maintenance required for the international space station. The space station could produce its own oxygen and humans could stay on board for extended periods of time. This experiment, if proven correct, would lead to more plant life experiments in microgravity conditions.